The Rotary Club of Cobourg is a service club whose purpose is to offer support to our community, both organizations, and individuals. Service above self is the Rotary motto and members of the Rotary Club of Cobourg have served this community for almost 100 years offering financial assistance and sweat equity to a variety of projects and initiatives.
The Rotary Club of Cobourg held its first meeting on Friday night August 12, 1921, at the Arlington Hotel. A large number of Rotarians from Toronto, Montreal, Belleville, Peterborough, and other places gathered to initiate a number of local men into the Rotary Club of Cobourg. The Club was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Montreal under the guidance of Montreal Rotarian Ernest Latter.
The first regular meeting of the Club was held on Friday at 12:30 noon August 23, 1921, at the British Hotel.
On Tuesday, November 29, 1921, District Governor Hart Irving Seeley of Waverly New York presented the Official Charter – number 997 to the membership. There were 23 members on the charter and they represented a fair cross-section of the town. The officers were President J.E. Stone, Secretary A.W. Young, and Treasurer A.J. Plunkett. The 125 guests at this meeting were from cities and towns in Ontario, Quebec and the USA. At this to time 16 years after Rotary was founded by Paul Harris in 1905 there were 997 clubs.
In the 1930s the club grew from 23 to 35 members, to 67 in 1961, 71 in 1965, 74 in 1971, 119 in 1997 and 141 in 2001 and today is over 150 members strong. 1988 saw the first women admitted to Rotary and Cobourg inducted four women that first year. Today, Women represent 25% of our Club membership.
From our Club, District Governors have included Harry Ruggles in 1958, Dr. Bob Scott in 1987, Bill Patchett in 2006 and this year it will be Beth Selby. Dr. Bob has been VP of Rotary International in 1997, Chair of The Rotary Foundation in 2007 and served many years as Chair of the International Polio Plus Committee. Many Cobourg Club members have served on the District 7070 committees over many more years.
Fundraising is a vital step in providing one of the means to help others. Over the years, money has been raised by Carnivals, Trade Fairs, raffles of cars, trailers, campers, concerts, stag nights, walkathons, minstrel shows, weekly BBC draws (Build a Better Cobourg), Bonanza nights (dances, car draws, entertainment). Currently, we have settled on three main fundraisers – Sportsman’s Night started in 1985, Waterfront Festival, 1990 and Ribfest, 2007.
Long term Rotary projects include Polio Eradication since 1985. From 325,000 cases annually, we are down to less than 50 cases worldwide and very close to total eradication. This has involved 1,200,000 Rotarians in 35,000 Clubs and what a gift to the world when we succeed! We have had International Youth Exchange in our Club from 1979, Foundation Scholarships, Easter Seals since 1944, Air Cadets 1942 – 1946 and 1954 to now, Camp Enterprise from 1985. Nearly every building, playground, park, and sports organization has been supported. Our most recent support has been given to the Waterfront, Northumberland Hills Hospital, Cobourg Community Centre and now, Ed’s House Hospice.
In 2021 the Rotary Club of Cobourg will be celebrating its centennial – 100 years of giving to the community and 100 years of Kindness. More information and history, details are available at the Cobourg Library in the Archives Section and is operated by the Town’s Historical Society.